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Tissue Repair and Regeneration Research Program

Dr Tim Dargaville
Dr Tim Dargaville, Leader of the Tissue Repair and Regeneration Research Program at IHBI.

The Tissue Repair and Regeneration (TRR) Research Program, led by Dr Tim Dargaville, focuses on devising and developing innovative and improved technologies and therapeutic approaches for the management of tissues degraded through trauma, normal ageing processes, wear and tear, ageing related disease and/or associated surgery.

The objective of the research is to restore functionality to damaged tissue. In particular, the research is focused in two areas: skin and wound repair, and load-bearing tissue regeneration.

Treatment of wounds represents a significant challenge at all levels of our society, in terms of cost (physical, emotional and financial) to patients, the economy and to the wider Australian and global communities. Despite this, relatively few researchers or research initiatives in Australia, or indeed internationally, are directed at this hidden health problem. At QUT, our research is aimed at investigating disorders of the skin and understanding more clearly the molecular and cellular processes involved in wound repair. Additionally, our research includes investigating novel candidate biomarkers in the metastasis of breast cancer.

QUT's Tissue Repair and Regeneration Research Program brings together a multidisciplinary consortium of collaborators from various research institutions, both nationally and internationally. Our consortium represents a unique integration of research excellence across the engineering, scientific and clinical disciplines. It is underpinned by existing and potential novel intellectual property opportunities that have clear commercial impact.

The TRR Research Program encompasses research disciplines that are critical to tissue regeneration, including: cell and molecular biology; signalling molecules and growth factors; bioactive and biomimetic materials; biomechanics; tissue mechanics; diagnostic/monitoring image and signal processing; mathematical modelling in medicine; as well as clinical orthopaedics, burns and wound repair.

This unique combination of collaborating investigators enables disorders of the musculo-skeletal system, together with disorders of the skin and wound repair,  to be addressed from an understanding of the cell biology, through the modelling of the function of biological systems and engineering of scaffolds, through to the development, trialling and commercialisation of clinically appropriate and novel materials. Strong links have been established with local hospitals, medical researchers and clinical specialists, as well as industry end-users, ensuring that the outcomes of our research and development feasibly address current and future clinical needs.

Aims and Objectives

Fibroblasts growing in three-dimensions
Fibroblasts growing in three-dimensions within totally synthetic gel materials. Photographer: IHBI researcher Dr Simone Rizzi.

Our program's research is aimed at understanding the complex biological events that occur in the wound environment. At present, major outcomes are focused on:

To achieve this, multiple integrated approaches at the biochemical, molecular, cell and structural biology levels are being used.

In 2002, Tissue Therapies Ltd was incorporated to commercialise QUT's Tissue Repair and Regeneration technology and to continue developing and advancing biomedical technologies for wound healing, tissue and various cell culture applications. Research into the core cell replication, protein synthesis and migration technologies continues to build on the basic VitroGro® intellectual property.

Key products under development

Photo of child with scar on face
VitroGro® was developed to enhance wound healing.

VitroGro® is a novel growth factor complex that enhances cell proliferation and migration in a range of cell types.

The "cell localisation" and "activity enhancing" functions of VitroGro®, along with the inherent "stickiness" of the complex that allows it to coat scaffolds, are being exploited for wound healing and tissue engineering applications, (WO 02/24219A1).

A novel fluorohydroxyapatite biomaterial that stimulates proliferation of bone progenitor cells is being examined for use as a coating for orthopaedic implants, (Aust. Prov. Patent PR9429).

For more information on the Tissue Repair and Regeneration Research Program please refer to the Cells and Tissue Research Profile.